Does Happiness Die With Us?
: An Aristotelian Examination of the Fortunes of the Deceased
Edward C. DuBois
Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.4, No.1 (January 2014):28-37
In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle tackles a very interesting issue when he inquires about the words of the wise man Solon. Solon suggests that we count no man happy until he is dead, that we must ‘look to the end’ before we judge. In this paper, I examine how Aristotle interprets Solon in two different ways, and how he responds to these interpretations. I contend that they result in something of a ‘Solonian Circle’ that is hard to escape. I then examine the work of Paul Gooch and Kurt Pritzl, who discuss how Aristotle breaks out of the Solonian Circle and how he ultimately harmonizes these interpretations with his own account of happiness. Finally, I argue that the issue of happiness after death is largely irrelevant to the project of virtue ethics and human flourishing, though how we think about the happiness or unhappiness of the dead plays a major role in our moral lives and thinking.
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